With summer officially underway, there’s no better time to cool down with an ice-cold glass of lemonade. Whether you’re lounging poolside, packing a picnic, or prepping for a backyard barbecue, a fresh-squeezed pitcher of homemade lemonade is perfect for the occasion. Just in time for August’s National Lemonade Day, here are our tips for perfecting your go-to recipe. Who knows, you might even give your local lemonade stand a run for its money.
- “Make your lemons easier to juice by softening them in the microwave, about 10-20 seconds depending on how strong your microwave is, prior to juicing. The goal is to soften the lemons—not to cook them, which slightly breaks down the pulp inside.”
- “No juicer, no problem! Peel lemons and toss them in a blender with ¼ cup of water. Blend lemons and strain through a fine strain colander.”
- “Simple syrup is great way to sweeten lemonade and it’s easy to make ahead of time. Add equal parts water and granulated sugar over heat until it boils, then cool.”
- “In addition to simple syrup, agave nectar is another great way to sweeten lemonade—as a plus, it’s also delicious on pancakes.”
Chef Kris’ Favorite Homemade Lemonade Recipe:
- 1 cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ½ cup cucumber juice (the easiest way to make this is in a blender with an English Cucumber)
- ¼ cup simple syrup
- 2-3 quarts water
Stir to combine. Garnish with a sliced lemon, lime, cucumber and sprig of mint.
To help get your creative juices flowing, these are some of our favorite recipes for homemade lemonade with a decidedly more adult twist. Try a boozy take on the classic Arnold Palmer, incorporating green tea-infused rum and guava, or a hard lemonade spiked with unexpected hints of basil and hibiscus.
TEA-ki, by lead bartender Justin Golash at DNV Rooftop
This boozy Arnold Palmer combines Cotton and Reed rum infused with green tea, Batavia Arrack (a sugarcane spirit), guava, lemon juice, and orgeat.
- 1.5 green tea infused Cotton and Reed White Rum (see sub recipe)
- .5 Batavia Arrack
- 1 Guava
- .5 lemon
- .5 orgeat (see sub recipe to make at home or use store bought)
Directions: Shake all of the ingredients together and strain into wavy rocks glass.
Sub Recipe: Green Tea-Infused Rum
Directions: Steep three tea bags of green tea in a liter of rum. Allow to sit at room temperature overnight.
Sub Recipe: Orgeat
- 1 pound sliced almonds
- 1 pound sugar
- Three drops of orange blossom water
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roast almonds in a pan for seven minutes. Soak in water for 48 hours, allowing the water to cover the almonds fully. Blend in a blender or food processor. Strain out solids through chinois. Add sugar and orange blossom water.
Herbivore, by lead bartender Brendan Ambrose at Firefly
This hard lemonade is summer in a glass with lots of fresh citrus and herbs. It features Botanist gin or Ketel One vodka, Dry Curaçao, Thai Basil-infused lemon juice, Hibiscus-rose tincture, and freshly pressed lemonade.
Shiso Vain, by lead bartender Sarah Rosner at Radiator
A nod to the Carly Simon classic and the shiso flavors in the drink, this boozy lemonade is made with half of a freshly squeezed lemon, sour-plum red shiso vinegar, Bulleit bourbon, and a touch of club soda.
- ½ lemon
- 1/3 oz Sour Plum-Red Shiso Vinegar (available in specialty food stores and online)
- 2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
- Fever Tree soda
- Shiso leaf
Directions: Squeeze and drop lemon into a Collins glass. Add vinegar and bourbon. Top with Fever Tree club soda. Garnish with a shiso leaf.